InsideNDSports - Ranking the Power Five commitments from a busy July 4
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Ranking the Power Five commitments from a busy July 4

Francis Mauigoa
Francis Mauigoa (Rivals.com)

Holidays are always important times for commitments and while everyone was out celebrating July 4 with barbecues and maybe an adult beverage, top prospects were coming off the board.

Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney goes through every Power Five pledge – and there were a lot – from Monday and ranks them.

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1. Francis Mauigoa, Miami

It seemed like Mauigoa was torn on his decision until the end with Miami, Tennessee and USC as the finalists and the Hurricanes won out. It’s huge for coach Mario Cristobal and position coach Alex Mirabal as Mauigoa is just tapping his potential as an offensive lineman after playing defensive end earlier in his career.

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2. Christian Gray, Notre Dame

Marcus Freeman deserves a lot of credit in landing Gray as the Irish held off LSU, Ohio State and others since the new Notre Dame coach did a lot of work in getting the four-star cornerback to commit. The Irish have the No. 1 class in the country and Gray is a super-talented defensive back.

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3. Karmello English, Auburn

Auburn was basically out for English until Ike Hilliard was hired as wide receivers coach and then the Tigers got right back in it along with Alabama, Kentucky, Florida and Penn State. The four-star is a baller, too, so he should be huge on The Plains as he caught 70 passes for 1,059 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior.

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4. TJ Searcy, Florida

Searcy always felt comfortable at Florida and his relationship with assistant coach Mike Peterson only helped the Gators land him as well. In terms of an edge rusher who can also use power and even play in space, Searcy is an impressive prospect as Florida beat Clemson, Tennessee, South Carolina and others.

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5. Zechariah Owens, Clemson

The massive offensive lineman from McDonough (Ga.) Eagle’s Landing Christian loved everything Clemson had to offer on and off the field. His relationship with position coach Thomas Austin definitely helped as well as Owens was battling between the Tigers and Penn State for his commitment.

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6. Dashawn Womack, LSU

A top 10 was released in late April and then a bunch of other programs got involved including Florida and Ohio State but Georgia made a big impression as well. Womack visited LSU, though, loved the coaches and players and saw himself working well in the program's defensive scheme. The Tigers dipping into the Mid-Atlantic was big.

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7. Ryqueze McElderry, Alabama

The four-star offensive lineman committed to Georgia in November but the talk was always that Alabama wasn’t going to give up and would keep trying to flip him. McElderry backed off his pledge in recent days and then committed to the Crimson Tide. After that he said his recruitment was over and he would only be visiting Tuscaloosa.


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8. Daemon Fagan, NC State

Position coach Joe DeForest coached some of Fagan’s idols at West Virginia and that was a big selling point in his commitment to the Wolfpack. The Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage four-star safety also loved his recent visit to Raleigh and said at the recent OT7 event that NC State was a legit contender in his recruitment with Ohio State, Miami, LSU and others.

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9. Micah Tease, Arkansas

USC and Notre Dame seemed like the front-runners for Tease before he made a last-minute decision to visit Arkansas. Shortly after that trip, the Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington said he was ready to make his decision on July 4 so the Razorbacks must’ve left a huge impression. Tease is someone who can play receiver or DB so his skillset will be useful in Fayetteville.

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10. Phil Picciotti, Oklahoma

Auburn, Michigan, Nebraska and Oklahoma made the final four for Picciotti and he picked the Sooners to play for Brent Venables and compete for titles. Beating teams in the Big Ten is huge for the Sooners especially for the Perkasie (Pa.) Pennridge especially since he covers so much ground and makes so many plays.

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11. Jaden Robinson, South Carolina

South Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland and Michigan were the final four for Robinson, who is currently listed at safety but could also play linebacker. Robinson has taken numerous visits to Columbia, hit it off with the coaches and getting into Florida never hurts for coach Shane Beamer and his staff.

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12. Isaiah Robinson, Baylor

Cal and Baylor were the front-runners in Robinson’s recruitment with LSU getting an unofficial visit and then Howard and Prairie View A&M rounded out his top five. But this felt like a decision between those first two teams.

In the end, Baylor felt like home to Robinson and his relationship with Dave Aranda and Eric Mateos won out. Offensive linemen with Robinson’s size and ability are rare.

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13. Chris Culliver, North Carolina

Virginia Tech and NC State were the other finalists for Culliver, who had an incredibly productive junior season with 60 catches for 1,215 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. Culliver has been to Chapel Hill numerous times but there was serious interest from other schools so Mack Brown getting the in-state standout to commit is important.

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14. Paris Patterson, Arkansas

Sam Pittman’s history as an offensive line coach was huge for Patterson as he picked Arkansas over Iowa State, Tennessee, LSU, Missouri, Nebraska and others. So, too, is what position coach Cody Kennedy is doing with the Razorbacks. Patterson is a tough, hard-nosed kid who doesn’t back down and that’s what Arkansas is looking for.

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15. Darron Reed, LSU

Reed’s decision basically came down to Ohio State and LSU and after his recent visit to Columbus it looked like the Buckeyes would win out. But the Tigers’ coaching staff had another week or so to convince Reed that Baton Rouge was the right spot and that’s what happened. From coach Brian Kelly to Jamar Cain to Matt House and the entire recruiting department, the Tigers made the biggest impression.

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16. Kelby Valsin, Texas Tech

After two high-profile decommitments in Texas Tech’s class, the Red Raiders scored big with another top-notch in-state prospect when Valsin picked them. Last season, the three-star caught 49 passes for 831 yards and eight touchdowns. Joey McGuire is focused mainly on local recruits and getting another in-state recruit on board helps.

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17. Deago Benson, Washington State

The unranked running back from Midlothian, Texas, committed to Washington State and his pledge fell under the radar but it shouldn’t have because Beason can play. Last season, he finished with 1,173 yards and 14 touchdowns on 204 carries. Despite not having any other Power Five offers, Beason can be a big contributor in Pullman.

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18. Joe Jackson, Kansas State

Kansas State beat Duke, Rutgers and Louisville mainly in his recruitment after rushing for more than 1,000 yards with nine rushing touchdowns and five receiving scores in his junior season. He’s the second running back in the Wildcats’ class along with speedy Dylan Edwards and K-State might not be done with John Randle Jr. still on the board. Jackson offers a more versatile back option since he can run it or catch it, too.

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19. Jonathan Bax, TCU

When the three-star defensive end from New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr committed to Southern Miss in June it came as a surprise because he definitely has Power Five ability. He was one of the better edge rushers at the Rivals Camp Series in New Orleans.

TCU and Baylor were the main players for Bax down the stretch and the Horned Frogs won out.

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20. Zach Ortwerth, Iowa

Ortwerth is a good-looking tight end who’s ranked as a mid-three-star as his production was not off the charts last season but that’s understandable since Wisconsin signee Chris Brooks Jr., and 2024 five-star receiver Ryan Wingo were also in the offense.

Iowa knows how to develop tight ends and Ortwerth was definitely a big target.

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21. Ashton Stamps, LSU

Stamps was impressive at the Rivals Camp in New Orleans and then was a standout at the LSU camp this summer, which earned him an offer from the Tigers. Missouri and Nebraska were the other Power Five offers but LSU was the dream offer for the Metairie (La.) Rummel standout. He wasn’t heavily recruited but has the speed and length to make an impact.

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22. Khalifa Keith, Kentucky

A strong, bruising running back option for the Wildcats, Keith rushed for 1,877 yards and 28 touchdowns on 190 carries last season. Despite those impressive numbers, Kentucky and Georgia Tech were the only Power Five offers for Keith.

He’s going to be an asset in Kentucky’s backfield, which also includes three-star Kaden Moorman in this recruiting class.

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23. Tamarcus Cooley, NC State

Whether it’s at receiver, in the secondary or on special teams, Cooley is going to be vital for NC State in any number of ways. What makes this even bigger for the Wolfpack is that his brother, Trevion, plays at Louisville and the Cardinals along with North Carolina, Ole Miss and many others were after him.

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24. Thomas Williams, Virginia Tech

Williams was an all-state running back at Greenville (S.C.) Powdersville but it looks like the Hokies will give the three-star his first shot in the secondary. Penn State, Tennessee, West Virginia and others were very interested so picking Virginia Tech is definitely a big winner here.

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25. Kenari Wilcher, Illinois

It came down to Illinois and Indiana for the high three-star athlete from Clewiston, Fla., and the Illini won out after Wilcher visited both schools. Also an all-purpose back in high school, Wilcher could be utilized there but is being brought in to play safety in Champaign.

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